There are dozens of methods that produce home education. Mine, as I’ve mentioned, tends toward the eclectic: a casual blend of various traditional approaches that are, by and large, driven by the needs and interests of the individual child. We do not have official start and stop dates for our learning; we learn year-round, advancing as skills are mastered and interests expand. A friend shared a great phrase with me last weekend, “We are a learning school, not a testing school,” and that really seems to fit us well. There are so many things families do every day, in the normal course of life, that contain important educational aspects, but unless we’re looking, we might not define such things as “school.”
So, here’s a fairly normal day for us, with some of the educational labels applied:
Today, I made breakfast, but many mornings, the kids do this. Meal planning involves nutrition, portioning, and budgeting–great life skills! We also all worked together to tidy the house, make beds, gather dirty clothes, bring up and fold clean clothes, start new loads of laundry, tidy the bathroom, wash dishes and tidy the kitchen.
It’s rare to have silence around here. Music is a pretty constant thing. Today, we listened to a selection of Roger Whitaker songs, as well as a stack of Dean Martin and Perry Como while we cleaned. And Mr Roboto. I have done an excellent job transmitting my musical tastes to the next generation, and am proud.
Penmanship is largely art at our house; typing is what one does to rapidly communicate. But the Spicy child brought me paper, and dictated a list of words she wants to draw and read, from dog and cat to caterpillar and dandelion. The Eldest wrote her brainstorming project longhand, and did a nice job.
I’m taking dictation from the Spicy child, as we work on a new installment of the round-robin letter with other girls her age (we’re the last stop as it heads into Canada!). The older two are exploring different types of lists: Pro/Con for Eldest, as she brainstorms the various merits and downfalls of stand-alone or shared real estate for a cafe; and Ordered List for The Boy, as he works on a blog post about Legos (his will need editing, as we clarify that breaking up a single long sentence into four or five oddly-punctuated segments does not count as four or five actual list items. And how to spell a few key words that radically change the meaning, otherwise. Big Time. But first, my Tall, Dark, and Slightly Neanderthal Husband will giggle into our shirtsleeves for awhile, because the altered meaning is really, really, really funny to us.)
Appreciation of Talents
We all encouraged the Spicy child as she worked on mastering headstands for gymnastics; she then showed Lefty how to do L-supports at the kitchen chairs. The happy and steady encouragement just trickles right down! Everyone likes to hear praise for their efforts, and I love seeing the big kids encourage the little ones, and the little ones encourage the big ones. It builds a lot of compassion and kindness around here, and it’s one aspect of home education I adore.
The Boy brought out his digital camera (bought with his own hard-earned funds after much careful research) and snapped shots and video of the little girls in their gymnastic endeavors. I’m sure he’ll use the pictures in a blog post (composition!) at some point in the future, too.
Our household eventually-egg-laying ducks and chickens were well-tended this morning, and then cuddled and handled. The big kids also tidied the animal feed/care area on the back porch, so all is well on our little suburban farmette. Later, the Spicy one will go out for her daily communion time, sitting in the chicken house with little birds perched all over her. They think she’s a Mamma, I’m quite sure.
Drawing is an everyday thing here, too. Spicy drew a picture of her chickens and rabbit, and practiced some scissor skills trimming it out. Lefty did not practice scissor skills, for which we are incredibly grateful. Because I wiped down the chalkboard, both girls are currently drawing their fingers off. Luckily, the Spicy one also likes to vacuum, so she can clean up the dusty mess later.
Yet to come today: we’ll read aloud as a family (starting a new, well-researched historic novel for history), and have some quiet personal reading time as well. At some point, we will also watch an episode of either Stargate 1 or Dr Who, because we are all huge fans of science fiction around here. We’ll explore more life skills as we make a meatball soup for supper (with cornbread! Yum!).
And, since the Tall, Dark, and Slightly Neanderthal fellow I married is re-installing an operating system on the children’s computer, we may also have brief lessons on “Inappropriate Language: or, Why We Don’t Say Those Words at Sunday School.”
Home education is so very flexible.